We had purposely run our food stocks down but were less keen on guzzling three litres of wine and and large bottle of Baileys in quick succession. I suggested stashing them but Nathanial thought we might get searched and be in trouble for doing so.
Setting off for the border with some trepidation, we steeled ourselves for a long wait and perhaps a fine to pay. In the event, the border was really quiet and the atmosphere was completely different from the entry point. We exited Albania successfully and quickly then made our way over to the Montenegran barriers.
A guard asked us if we had anything to declare and we played the dumb card and asked what sort of things? We opened up the doors and asked the guards if they would like to look in but, seeing the kids we were waved on.
When the documents were checked, we were asked for our Green Card (the insurance that we don't have with our UK policy). I said that we didn't have one and could we buy it here? The guard nodded and pointed me over to a side office, where ten minutes and €18 later we were all legal.
|All legal and ready for country # 6|
All told, the crossing from Albania to Montenegro took less than fifteen minutes and, driving down the road of another new country, we were filled with relief. Truthfully, it had been a bit scary being in Albania without proper insurance, especially given the state of some of the roads and the driving style (and vehicular choice) of some of it's citizens. Although the Green Card would only meet basic third-party requirements it was good to be legal and with this in place we decided that instead of driving straight through to Croatia as planned, we would spend a night in Montenegro and have a drive up to Durmitor National Park to visit the Tara Canyon.
Montenegro is quite a small country and we easily made the journey from the Albanian border on the south coast to the National Park which lies up in the north, near to the Serbian border.
The roads and views were spectacular and definitely felt very different to Albania. Montenegro is predominantly mountainous and we had soon climbed above a thousand metres along more of my favourite twisty roads.
|Still not watching the road, and he wonders why I'm nervous|
We reached our destination within a few hours and were immediately glad to have made the decision to visit. Durmitor National Park was worth a look by itself, lots of sweeping views and really pretty houses. It must be even more impressive in the winter, covered in snow.
|All of the houses were pretty but these were a bit special, much better than Albanian buildings!|
A few tight hairpins later, we found what we had come to see. Apparently the Tara Canyon is the second deepest gorge in the world. It was certainly an impressive sight.
|You'd better not look over here Mum|
|It really was this blue|
|That's close enough lads|
After deciding not to take a trip across it on a zip wire (because of costs reasons mainly, we all wanted to do it) we went and had dinner at a hotel restaurant overlooking the canyon. Needing a place to stay for the night, we also viewed one of the hotel family rooms, but lack of either wifi, a double bed or a bath tub made the van the winning choice. We had seen a campsite on our way to the canyon, so after dinner we made our way back along the road, arriving at Camp Jatak just as dusk was falling.
We were the sole residents that night and were shown into a beautiful meadow to park up. The temperature up in the mountain was far chillier than those we have been used to, it dropped by about twenty degrees from coast to mountain top with the temperature reading only 11 degrees first thing in the morning. We have long since discarded Alfie's duvet, so he felt the chill the most, but as the sun came out the temperature quickly soared back into the late twenties.
|Lessons au meadow|
|This one prefers to be indoors!|
Descending from the mountains, the road twisted around the coast once more and after a final scenic journey we arrived at the Croatian border, where we could once again enjoy the benefits of having a fully-comp insurance policy and breakdown cover!
Safely back in the E.U, we reflected that, tense though it had been at times, we had made a good decision to travel through Albania and Montenegro, rather than sticking to our previous plan of 'going around' through Bulgaria and Romania. We got to experience a different flavour of life (hopefully the boys took some of it in) and it has also enabled us to visit Croatia, as recommended to us by so many.